Minto pleads not guilty to assault

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 11:12 05/11/2012
john minto
GRAHAME COX / Fairfax NZ
JOHN MINTO: Pleading not guilty to assault.

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Veteran activist John Minto has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a police officer and obstruction arising from a late night protest in Auckland last week.

Minto was among 13 people arrested during a protest to stop the removal of two state houses in Glen Innes on Thursday night.

The protest group appeared today at the Auckland District Court where they pleaded not guilty to obstructing police.

Minto, who is the only defendant facing an additional assault charge, argued against police bail conditions banning him from visiting the street where protests occurred.

He said another parole condition concerning violent behaviour was an insult.

"It felt like to me an attempt to smear my character."

The Judge upheld the non-violence bail condition, while police withdrew the bail condition banning protesters from Apirana Ave.

Minto said protesters planned to fight the charges.

"The arrests are a disgrace and arise from aggressive police mishandling of non-violent, passive resistance to the removal of state houses in Glen Innes.

"The police have become increasingly violent in their handling of the protests."

Police have denied heavy-handed tactics.

The latest charges follow a spate of protests in Glen Innes aimed at thwarting a Government redevelopment of state housing.

Mana Party supporters have planned a march to parliament on Wednesday.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira was arrested on October 12 when contractors attempted to remove another house from Glen Innes.

Harawira pleaded not guilty to the charge and will reappear at Auckland District Court this month.

In April several people were arrested after they lay beneath the wheels of a truck in further protests over the house removals. Following the arrests, about 100 people marched from the Glen Innes police station.

Housing New Zealand plans to move 40 state houses from Glen Innes and redevelop 156 houses to create 260 new homes.

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